Canada Abuses Power to Defend the Seal Slaughter

When it comes to defending the insane annual slaughter of harp seals, the Canadian government throws fairness and justice out the window.

Seal killers are free to assault seal defenders on the ice. Conservationists, reporters, and animal welfare advocates have been regularly attacked over the years and the assaults are becoming increasingly more violent.

During our 2005 Seal Campaign, we took our ship the Farley Mowat to the ice floes of Eastern Canada. Our crewmembers were viciously assaulted by sealers on the ice and struck with fists and hakapiks. Cameras were damaged and faces bloodied. In response, the police charged the victims (our crew) for the crime of witnessing a seal hunt. No charges were laid by the Mounties against the sealers because, according to the Mounties, the victims provoked the violence of the sealers by being on the ice.

Earlier this year, seven observers of the seal kill were arrested and charged with being too close to a sealing operation after a sealing boat approached them and sealers hurled seal guts at them. The charges were dropped after the observers were forcefully removed from the ice by government authorities. All seven observers had government permits to observe the killing.

Now in an effort to keep these observers off the ice in 2007, the government has recharged them. The evidence videotaped by the observers will be sufficient to exonerate them by any impartial judge or jury, but the intent of the charges is not to seek a conviction but to prevent the observers from returning to the ice to observe the slaughter in the spring of 2007. As long as the seven observers are facing "charges" under DFO regulations they cannot be issued permits to observe the killing.

One of the seven charged is Rebecca Aldworth who has been one of the leading opponents of the seal slaughter over the last few years. Rebecca, formerly employed by IFAW, is now leading the campaign to oppose the seal slaughter for the Humane Society of the United States. Rebecca is also a native Newfoundlander and an embarrassment to the government of Canada because they like to present the image that opposition to the savage slaughter of seals is a foreign campaign.

"This is a travesty of justice," said Captain Paul Watson, "but it is what we have come to expect from the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In Canada, the savage have rights and those who protect the innocent are victimized by a shameless abuse of power."

Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn has declared "war" on all who oppose the slaughter of seals.